Friends who are Your Enemies

Kevin Schmid

There is a saying, “Don’t fear the enemy that attacks you but the fake friends that hug you.”

Who do you think cares more for you? Who do you think will do better for you in the long run? The fake friend or the one that challenges you, makes you feel temporarily uncomfortable for your improvement and good?

I remember when the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi MM Schneerson, bemoaned the fact that the same politicians who caused the deaths of soldiers would later come and comfort the wives and parents of those deceased soldiers.

Rabbi MM Schneerson was talking about the many military exercises the Israeli army had over the years, whether in Lebanon, Egypt, Gaza, etc. The Rebbe believed that when the military was involved in an operation against our enemies, it was imperative not to buckle into world pressure or political interests and do the job as military experts advised would be best for the safety of Israel.

Rabbi MM Schneerson believed it was a fatal mistake to give back land that endangered the Israeli people when our land was literally meters away from groups who publicly declared their commitment to eradicating the Jewish people “from the river to sea.”

On the other side are the many voices that continuously proclaim we should give peace a try and buckle into the world’s pressures. Although we’ve already tried and they have repeatedly demonstrated that they are not partners of peace, somehow, as “merciful people,” we never run out of pushing to give it another try.

They say it’s important to be humanitarian and take the moral high ground even when there isn’t another nation that acts this way, even when we are first attacked by the enemy and even when it is the enemy shooting at us behind women and children, and don’t give us any other alternative when shooting back at these killers of ours. “They” say we don’t have a choice when depending on other countries for their “friendship” and world opinion matters.

This scenario is not just limited to Israel and wars.

There are always “friends” who tell us to come, let’s drink and party. Let’s take drugs together; let’s spend thousands on a cruise, let’s belong to particular affiliations when in truth they are not our “friends” at all. It’s not good for us to party or waste all that money. It’s not good to be in the environment of those affiliations; it’s not easy to separate and be different, the “oddball,” but our “friends” don’t cease the pressure they put on us. Maybe because they are just not thinking of our true welfare, perhaps because they are just thinking of their own benefits; maybe even more sinister, they really want to see our downfall so they don’t look so bad.

It’s easier to give in and go along to get along. However, there is always going to be a price to pay.

The Rebbe truly cared for the lives of the soldiers. The Rebbe was a REAL friend of the protectors of Israel. It didn’t bother him that he stood alone because his cause was just, and he knew there was a God who records everything, even man’s thoughts. Ultimately (really this is every day and every moment), we must give judgment before God, and the one whose advice brings death and the opposite of good is culpable. The one who is sincere and tries his best to save lives is given credit and is meritorious in the eyes of God, the source of all blessings, and the opposite of blessings, in one’s life.

The Rebbe, Rabbi MM Schneerson, wasn’t the fellow who was weak and hugged you and made you feel good even when he knew it was to your detriment. A true friend advises you to do the right thing, even when it is unpopular.

I think today, more than ever, we have a situation where no one wants to be controversial. Few people have the spine to stand out and proclaim divergent views at the expense of being “canceled.” The forces of evil don’t give up their crusades, and sitting by idly is tacit approval and support for their crusades. Taking a stance and sticking out like a sore thumb isn’t being “sociable.” Friends will tell you it’s not worth being the oddball, so let’s all party together and have a good time. After all, isn’t that what friends are for—having good times together?

Then, when there is a not-so-pleasant consequence as a result of the weak position taken and pain and suffering are paid for the wrong choices, again, the fake friends who caused your predicament come and comfort you when all that pain and suffering could have been avoided had you stood firm, to begin with.

It is wiser and better to be alone on the proper, correct path and survive than to join the trends, buckle into the pressures, and suffer the inevitable consequences.

I remember Rabbi Schneerson speaking at public gatherings, asking if “its (the Torah) ways are the ways of pleasantness and all its pathways are peace.” Why don’t we just cave into the pressures of the world’s nations and live in a state of kumbaya? And the Rebbe answered. The ONLY way to experience eternal peace and authentic pleasantness is by following the directives of the Eternal “God of Peace,” which sometimes comes at the expense and effort of fighting the forces of evil.

Everyone wants peace because, as the Torah says, “There is no vessel that holds blessings but peace.”  We all want blessings, good health, and good luck. Sometimes, this is achieved by NOT giving back land to the enemy. Sometimes, it takes standing firm and being a person of integrity, “stiff-necked.” Sometimes, the peace and the blessings come from fighting a war to the end and not listening or caving into our “friends.”  Sometimes, this is the ONLY way to achieve everlasting peace.

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" Rabbi Ezagui opened in 1987 the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the Island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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